Mac Fanboy iPhones Home with Control Apps
This Minnesota homeowner uses Apple's smart phone for much more than just phone calls.
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March 09, 2010 by Julie Jacobson

This homeowner is a big Macintosh fan, so when Apple’s iPhone launched in 2007, he was one of the first in line.

Back then, his new home was under construction near St. Cloud, Minn., and awaiting the installation of a HomeLogic home control system. When Apple opened its app store to developers, “I was hoping HomeLogic would come out with something,” the homeowner recalls.

Indeed, HomeLogic was one of the first to deliver a home-control application that was native to the iPhone, meaning it wasn’t just running slow, inelegant web pages. And this homeowner was one of the first consumers in the country to enjoy the application. (Click here to view a slideshow of some of his HomeLogic iPhone applications.)

On the Road
When traveling, the owner uses his iPhone mostly to turn on and off the alarm system, but “every once in awhile, I check the weather through the [surveillance] cameras,” he says.

At other times, he will simply flip some lights on and off “to make it look like someone is home.” The installation company, Cybermation of Waite Park, Minn., could easily create an automated program to do just that, but “we just haven’t gotten around to it,” the homeowner explains.

Besides, that wouldn’t be nearly as fun.

This homeowner occasionally amuses himself with some HomeLogic hijinks. He recalls flying on a WiFi-equipped plane: “I was at 36,000 feet, and I watched my wife pull into the garage. I messed with some lights and the TV channels.”

In the Home
Use of the iPhone is not relegated to homeowner as Road Warrior. It’s also a handy tool for homeowner as Couch Potato.

Touchscreens from HomeLogic and universal remote controls from Remote Technologies Inc. (RTI) grace most of the rooms in his house, but this owner sometimes can’t resist using the iPhone—even for basic TV controls.

Most custom electronics (CE) pros insist the iPhone should not be used as a remote-control replacement because of WiFi connection issues and the sheer number of buttons you have to press. “We typically design each room with a dedicated universal remote. But when that remote is not handy or when calling for a function outside of the room, the iPhone/iTouch interface is a nice addition to in-wall or large tablets,” says Cybermation’s James T. Heckendorf.

With this homeowner’s strong WiFi network, “there are no connection issues,” he says. “There is an instant change for volume controls and channels—sometimes faster than the [HomeLogic] touchscreen.”

He admits, however, that it takes about six button presses “just to get to the HomeLogic page,” after considering the power button, password and navigation. A few more button presses later, he can get to the TV controls.

This iPhone power user shrugs off the inconvenience. “It’s just like texting,” he says. “I don’t even think about it. Sometimes it’s easier just to sit in the chair than to get up and grab a remote.”

The owner also makes good use of the iPhone when he’s lounging by the pool or puttering around the yard—in the few months that Minnesota allows it.
Extensive landscape lighting and weatherproof speakers all can be controlled by the iPhone that practically never leaves this homeowner’s side.

Credit: Mike Meszaros and Troy Schaefer

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Julie Jacobson - Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

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